Recently, I took part in a podcast discussion about the pull of outside forces like family, friends, and even fans.
I love this topic.
- How do we choose what voices we listen to?
- Who or what really steers our lives?
- When do we throw off traditional outlooks and loud voices in the name of louder callings, new paths, and creativity?
While I enjoy this subject immensely (and have always admired the podcast host and her show), I found the interview experience uncomfortable for a couple of reasons entirely related to the complexity of the topic.
After the interview, my hang-ups and corresponding nervousness slowly revealed themselves to me. There is so much more to say than was said on the podcast. (If interested, you can listen to the podcast here.)
I hope to address and clarify a little more below. However, as you will see, a lot connects and just keeps going...
At about the age of 25 I made a pact with myself - that in the context of history and the context of creatures on the planet, my suffering has been minimal. If anything, some of my suffering has been an asset to growth, and therefore I never want to complain about my past - ever.
That being said, it doesn’t mean certain events in life weren’t painful or that I and the people around me can’t learn from them. There’s a difference between reflecting and whining. I don’t like whining. I don’t know many people who do.
In essence, the most abrasive, harmful, and judgemental crud that has filled my life has come from my own head. Is this because I easily absorb what is around me? Partially so. Therefore I take responsibility for this characteristic and change my environment as needed.
Daggers to My Being!
Overtime, creativity has become a guiding force for what environments I gravitate towards. I go where I feel most creative while avoiding what I deem as “killers of creativity.” (Quite frankly, I don’t think anything kills genuine creativity or creative living faster than narcissism and critical voices trying to cast themselves in the name of realism, common sense, or righteousness.)
I process tones of unnecessary and incessant judgement as daggers to my being. Without even wanting to react, my insides mobilize to pulverize them.
The sensitive soul seems to have two choices in an environment of narcissism. In order for creativity to survive, one must...
1. Raise their narcissism to the level of the narcissism being presented (which may make you disgusted with yourself)
2. Retreat (retreating looks different on different people)
The right to choose one’s environment (within reason) is one of several reasons why I like Dabrowski’s theory (and spent a significant amount of time studying it - but forgot to mention it in the interview).
Positive Disintegration states there is a third factor beyond nature and nurture. There is the factor of you taking control of your environment to create a different feedback loop of growth, mixing outside forces and your inherent genetics.
Dodging Secret Preaching
Any human born at any point in history has had to live in the shadow of their society and the shadow of their culture. They probably felt this shadow as an oppressive barrier to any alternative vision or alternative take on life.
With education and knowledge, most of us realize a path was crafted for us long before we were born based on gender, race, sexual preference, age, etc. Once you realize there is a script you’ve been funneled into, it’s the beginning of analyzing what parts you agree with and what parts you are going to reject.
It takes a significant amount of mental effort - and quite often the privilege of your basic needs being met - to have the energy to process a path that has already been put in place for you and reject it.
The idea we should trade in our creativity for responsibility at a certain age is unfortunate. I’ve tried to tell myself I can be more a flexible thinker than that. I’ve tried to look for a way to walk the line.
I’ve never had responsibility preached at me by any means. I’ve simply had people who wanted me to live like them because that would validate their life choices. I simply think - I hope you can validate your own life choices. I wouldn’t depend on an oddball like me to do it.
My choices surprise even me at times. I live pretty far in my own head and don’t really mind what other people do - as long as they aren’t harming or making fun of others.
Surprise! As I Become Myself, I Disappoint People
I have thought very hard about this, and I don’t have any answers to it, but I don’t think you can make it through life without hurting people or at the very least disappointing people. If you are going to become yourself or live by a set of self-articulated standards that serve a higher good, you are going to disappoint people who wanted a different version of you. There’s no way around it.
One narrow way to look at this is regarding the changing expectations of fans. I’m lucky I’ve been able to do what I want with a small audience. In this sense, I don’t have a hit song I have to play a million times in order to accommodate anyone. I play what I play to keep the show enjoyable for myself. I’ve recently changed the entire approach of my music to accommodate a two-hour history theme. I can probably change like this because I’m not tied to a big business machine, and I’m not tied to past fans.
Bring on the Misunderstandings!
If you want to fully realize a hazy vision and bring it to life, you have to have a certain level of tolerance for… disappointing people, even yourself. (For example, I was disappointed with the way I handled this podcast. It was a great opportunity, and I forgot to talk about what I wanted to talk about. I simply meandered and for some reason wound up mentioning my husband’s eye surgery.)
If you want to become yourself at all, you have to brace for disappointment when putting yourself out there. Everclear (the band) had a good message when I was in 6th grade - you can’t be everything to everyone.
Working within a band is a micro version of this. Everyone experiences a different essence of where a song or identity could go, but it’s a vision, and it’s an interesting battle to see the vision that becomes realized.
I can’t imagine a more extreme business relationship than a band. The product itself relies on the absolute vulnerability of at least one person’s thoughts. As a consequence, any amount of personal dysfunction and relational dysfunction is revealed right away.
In Part 2, I’ll talk about my husband’s experience of graduating high school early to be in a band signed with Steve Lilywhite, why I talked about it on this podcast, and why I failed in representing its complexity.
DISCLAIMER: AS ALWAYS, IF YOU NEED PSYCHOLOGICAL OR BUSINESS ADVICE PLEASE SEEK A PROFESSIONAL FOR YOUR SPECIFIC SITUATION.